Saturday, April 02, 2005

The WaPo List Of Best Schools

Sunday's Washington Post has three lists of what it says are the best public and private schools in the Washington area. These lists were not generated in the usual way, which would be to simply take a look at statistics such as S.A.T. scores or the number of students going on to Ivy League Schools. Instead, WaPo developed its own evaluative criteria, which began with requesting input from it's readers:

So last September we asked readers which local high schools had impressed them and why. More than 300 people responded to The Washington Post Magazine's Back Fence Survey, nominating high schools and explaining what made them worthy of praise. Those who weighed in included parents, teachers, principals, students, alumni and community leaders. This wasn't a scientific survey and didn't pretend to be. But it highlighted some interesting high schools we hadn't heard much about before, along with others that we had.

In addition to the Back Fence responses, we talked to education experts, visited schools and examined the numbers. Then we compiled a list of 30 exceptional public and private high schools from across the region. It's by no means comprehensive. There are undoubtedly lots of terrific schools that aren't mentioned here. But this list offers a glimpse of what some public and private high schools are doing right in the eyes of those who know the most about them.

Even though as a classroom teacher I have a healthy respect for statistics, I like the overall method that they used to evaluate schools for their lists. I agree with The Post that a fine public or private school is a lot more than a study in statistics. Using a combination of campus visitations, statistical analysis, as well as feedback from parents and educators isn't innovative, it's common sense.

The Post has generated three seperate lists of 10 schools each.
  • See the top ten public schools here.
  • View the top ten private schools here.
  • The top ten schools serving minorities and special needs students are here.

Not present on any of the lists is the ultra-expensive (more than $21,000 per year) and ultra-fashionable Sidwell Friends School that many of Washington's elite have chosen to send their progeny in recent years.

An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the ninth edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive your contributions no later than 10:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, April 5, 2005. The Carnival midway will open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning. Get our easy-to-follow entry guidelines here.

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